21 February 2011

"Saucered and blowed"

This colloquial expression, often used to refer "to coffee, too hot to drink until it was poured into the saucer for a moment, blown on, and then drunk from the saucer," is discussed at World Wide Words.  I was surprised at how far back the roots of the phrase can be traced:
The expression is certainly American, turning up at various times in the south and west of the country... In the negative it meant something hadn’t yet been made fully ready — a football coach commented on one of his young players in the Charleston Gazette in 1972 that “He has a long way to go. He hasn’t been saucered and blown yet.”..

The idea goes back a long way, of course, much further than the expression itself. A squib appeared in a British newspaper two centuries ago, in which a Frenchman asked a friend to advise on the correctness of his manners at dinner:
“And the coffee?” “There I am certain I was right; it was boiling hot, and I poured it in small portions into my saucer.” “Which was what no one else did; every body takes his coffee in his cup, and never in his saucer.”   The Courier (Middlesex), 21 Mar. 1826.
The link concludes with an (?)apocryphal story about George Washington saying "“we pour our legislation into the Senatorial saucer to cool it.”


  1. My dad used to tell a story from when he was a boy, probably 1920 or so, and he and his mother stopped in a roadside cafe on a trip somewhere. His mother ordered a coffee, and when it came it was too hot to drink so she stirred it for a few minutes and tested it.
    Still too hot, and she had begun to stir it again when an elderly gentleman next to them slid his cup over to her and said
    "Ma'am, this cup has been saucered and blowed three times now and its almost ready if you would like"
    That is the only time I have ever heard that term, Saucered and Blowed', until today that is.

  2. Interesting. It's uncannily similar to the 1935 quotation cited at the link.

  3. Hah! see, thats why should always follow your link! Turns out my daddy's story was really just one of his dry jokes!
    Thanks tiwiki!

  4. My grandmother (from southeast Tennessee) would always pour her hot coffee (already sweetened and creamed) from her coffee cup into the saucer. But instead of pouring the coffee back into the cup, she would blow on the coffee in the saucer, then hold the saucer up and drink from it. This was certainly a rural and backwoods practice (and she was of that kind). But I remember it well.



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